- Title: SPAIN: Franco-era policeman in extradition hearing in Spanish court
- Date: 10th April 2014
- Summary: MADRID, SPAIN (APRIL 10, 2014) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF SPAIN'S HIGH COURT SPANISH FLAG POLICE OUTSIDE HIGH COURT EXTERIOR OF HIGH COURT
- Embargoed: 25th April 2014 13:00
- Location: Spain
- Country: Spain
- Topics: International Relations,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAECCZZR4H5KA0WNJG7FIO77SFA
- Story Text: A Spanish former policeman known as "Billy the Kid", wanted in Argentina for crimes during Francisco Franco's regime, argues against his extradition to the Latin American country at a court hearing in Madrid.
A former policeman wanted by Argentina on allegations of torture during the 1970s under the dictatorship of Spanish leader Francisco Franco argued against his extradition to the Latin American country at a court hearing in Madrid on Thursday (April 10).
An Argentine judge is investigating possible crimes against humanity committed during the 36-year dictatorship of General Franco under an international human rights law in a case that threatens to dig up Spain's painful past.
Antonio Gonzalez, 67, known as 'Billy the Kid', is accused of torturing 13 people between 1971 and 1975, crimes that could net up to 25 years in jail under Argentine law. Fellow former policeman Jesus Munecas is accused of torturing one person.
Spain's High Court protected Gonzalez's identity during the short court appearance, only allowing video of the back of his head to be taken.
Munecas appeared in court in a separate extradition hearing last week. Spain has yet to decide whether it will extradite the two men.
As Gonzalez was inside the court room, a group of protesters gathered near the High Court building.
"We have memory, we want justice," they shouted.
One of the protesters, Juan Rebollo who leads the Spanish Association Against Impunity said he hopes Gonzalez is extradited to Argentina.
"That torturer must be judged and he must be sentenced for all the crimes and tortures he committed. I have a friend whose head was put into water until he almost drowned. That was done by "Billy the Kid." We want him to pay for that," he told Reuters.
Argentina is using an international human rights law that Spain itself used in 2005 to prosecute a member of Argentina's former military dictatorship in Spanish courts for crimes against humanity.
Spain, along with many Latin American countries in their transition to democracy, passed an amnesty law in 1977 which pardoned the crimes of the Franco government. Lawyers are seeking to override this legislation under international law.
Argentine judge Maria Servini is collecting testimonies from hundreds of Spaniards on alleged crimes from torture to murder to trafficking babies under Franco's rule from 1939 to 1975.
Spain's state prosecutor opposes the extradition of the men saying that too much time has passed for the crimes to be passed under the country's statute of limitations, which sets the maximum time after an event that legal proceedings may be started.
The state prosecutor has also hinted that the case could be looked into in Spain. The two accused men had their passports taken away in December and must report weekly to a court.
Spain told a United Nations panel in November that the amnesty for political crimes committed during the 1936-39 civil war and the right-wing dictatorship of Francisco Franco would not be reviewed, despite growing calls for a rethink.
A visiting U.N. panel in October urged Spain to take on responsibility and draw up a national plan to search for those missing through forced disappearances under Franco. It recommended Spain to scrap the amnesty and pave the way for cases to be judged in the courts.
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